BAE Systems developing LDAL
BAE Systems is developing a Laser Developed Atmospheric Lens (LDAL), a new type of directed energy laser and lens system designed to improve commanders’ ability to observe adversaries’ activities over much greater distances in the future battlefield, the company announced on 15 January.
The LDAL concept works by simulating naturally occurring phenomena and temporarily - and reversibly - changing the Earth’s atmosphere into lens-like structures to magnify or change the path of electromagnetic waves such as light and radio signals. According to the company, the lens could also be used as a ‘deflector shield’ to protect friendly aircraft, ships, land vehicles and troops from incoming attacks by future high-power laser weapons.
The LDAL concept copies two existing effects in nature: the reflective properties of the ionosphere and desert mirages. It simulates both these effects by using a high pulsed power laser system and exploiting a physics phenomenon called the ‘Kerr Effect’ to temporarily ionise or heat a small region of atmosphere in a structured way. Mirrors, glass lenses and structures like Fresnel zone plates could be replicated using the atmosphere, allowing the physics of refraction, reflection, and diffraction to be exploited.
Nick Colosimo, futurist and technologist at BAE Systems, said: ‘Working with some of the best scientific minds in the UK, we’re able to incorporate emerging and disruptive technologies and evolve the landscape of potential military technologies in ways that, five or ten years ago, many would never have dreamed possible.’
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